Riomaggiore was our home base during our time at The Cinque Terre. The main reason for this was its proximity to La Spezia (where we were transiting from), Portovenere (a day trip we really wanted to do), as well as the fact that it’s a pretty village that’s one the smaller side and not as crowded as others such as Vernazza. When in Italy, make sure to pronounce it as ‘Ree-ma-geor-reh’ and not how it literally sounds like it should be pronounced – otherwise you might be met with an extremely confusing look & a ‘are you sure that’s on the Cinque Terre’? (As from our other Italian AirBnB hosts)!
Despite this pretty place being pretty small, there’s a lot more to it beyond its one main street – and yes, it only has one main street as the rest of the village is basically all residential aside from a few spots here and there!
Some suggestions for Riomaggiore & some images from our time there are below :)
Leaving Riomaggiore by ferry
1) Take the ferry out of town at least once. Whilst train tickets here are only a couple of euros, ferry tickets can be double, triple the price. However, it’s such a scenic way to see each of the five villages. If you can plan it into your itinerary, I would suggest buying a daily pass and taking the ferry to see each of the cities in one day, to save on a heap of one way tickets.
Morning light at Riomaggiore
3) Make use of any free wifi zones! A lot of the AirBnB apartments didn’t have wifi and our phones couldn’t pick up reception either (likely due to the extremely thick concrete walls). So if you’re like us and always feel like you need to be connected to the digital world, wifi hotspots will be your best friend. Check around San Giovanni Church, there’s one there we used every night!
Riomaggiore’s little bay
The scenic walk to town
2) When getting off the train at Riomaggiore train station, take the scenic walk to town instead of the underpass. So when getting off the train, instead of going right like everyone else, take the uphill walk on the left side in front of you at least once. This walk takes you on a panoramic path towards town and as long as you don’t have luggage with you (if you have luggage with you please take the underpass instead!) it is quite a beautiful stroll. As you get closer to town, you’ll eventually see the sight above – one of my favourite views of Riomaggiore as it’s a lesser seen view.
Riomaggiore’s one main street
3) Wander the main street in the morning before it gets busy when ferries start to bring in hundreds of tourists from nearby towns. Options are limited in small villages like these however most of the time, you really can’t go wrong. Grab breakfast at the ‘Snack Bar’ (it has a really small store front but is on the same side as the bank and really does sell great breakfast bagels) or the ‘bakery’ that’s right before Bar Centrale.
4) Grab takeaway pizza from one of the restaurants and take it to the bay to watch the sunset. You’ll be joined with a handful of others with the same idea because it’s just such a great place to kick back and finish off the evening!
5) Stay even later and wait for the lights to come on as the sun disappears. If you squint, you’ll see heaps of photographers camping out on the rocks waiting for the perfect evening shot. We weren’t game enough to venture all the way onto the rocks in darkness but you can get the same result down the steps as well!
Photography: Thomas Debono & I